Tight end Isaiah Smalls wasted little time advancing to the level. Briefly after the conclusion of the 2017-18 football season, he graduated from Dorsey High school was enrolled at Oregon State University.
Smalls took advantage of the early signing period that took place from December 20-22. This procedure was made official by the Collegiate Commissioner’s Association an NCAA council in May 2017.
Smalls mentioned how the Oregon State would contact him daily, this was one of the factors in his decision.
“They kept recruiting me and it was just the consistency and the family feeling from the coaches from day one,” he said. “I was a priority to them and I’m gonna stay loyal to those who are loyal to me.”
To graduate early, Smalls worked diligently in the classroom; he had a 3.529 GPA and was on the honor roll all four years at Dorsey. One of his methods to succeed in school was to use his time wisely.
“I’ll do my work before I even get home, before school is over like when the teacher hands out the assignment,” Smalls said. “I hurry up and work on it because I know by the time practice gets out, I’m not gonna want to do it.”
Throughout his senior year, Smalls observed the Beavers offense. Now that he’s enrolled at Oregon State, he is putting in the work to get playing time and preparing for their season opener against Ohio State in September.
“You just need the right tight end to fit the mold, being an athletic tight end that could stretch the field vertically, but you also need that tight end to help in the run game,” he said. “I feel I fit that mold very well … I don’t expect anything to be handed to me, but I’m definitely gonna come in and earn my spot.”
Smalls’ mother, Kimberly Gaines, attributes his ambition to his success.
“I know that he wanted to play at the next level. He wants to play on Saturday and then hopefully play on Sunday,” Gaines said. “For him it was self-motivation.”
Along with playing tight end, Smalls played quarterback for the Dons. As a signal caller, he racked up 490 passing yards and nine touchdowns. Former Dons Football head coach Charles Mincy described Smalls as “versatile” and “physically gifted.”
“It’s just another example of hard work paying off and having a really supportive parent.” Mincy said. “I think it’s always good we have these scenarios happen like Isaiah and going off to Oregon State early, meaning that he took care of the academics.”
Smalls has experience playing baseball and running track, but the appeal and popularity of football made him put his bat and mitt down as he got older.
“It’s more action every play and I love action,” Smalls said. “Baseball was fun, but it was kind of getting a little bit boring to me even though I was good at it.”
One major lesson Smalls learned at Dorsey was humility, Mincy did not go along with Smalls’ whims regardless of the notoriety he has.
“I wanted to do my own thing and he wouldn’t let me,” Smalls said. “If I was to try to do that on the next level, I’ll either get sent home or they gonna find someone to replace me.”